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Full text of "Alexander von Humboldt"

ALEXANDER  VON"   HUMBOLDT.                   51
new, highly important phenomena, whose advent had
"been predicted by the Indians at the volcanic Cnehi-
vano ravine, from the superstitiously observed unusual
natural appearances.
From the 10th October, his attention was directed
to  a  reddish mist, which, covered the sky for some
minutes every evening; other remarkable air pheno-
mena soon followed;   the mist grew denser, the hot
nigiit air became tin-odorous, the sea  breezes failed
to come, the sky was coloured like fire, and the earth's
surface was bursting everywhere.     Thus the 4th No-
vember arrived, and was an important day for Hum-
boldt, because he was, for the first time, witness of an
earthquake, and participator in its dangers.   How new
and how overpowering it was for him, and how soon
ho felt familiar with its dangers, is shown in these, his
own words:  "From our childhood upwards we repre-
sent to ourselves the water as a mutable., the earth as
an immovable solid mass,—it is the result of daily ex-
perience.    The appearance of a shock of earthquake,
an agitation of the earth, of which we believed that it
rested firmly on its old foundations, destroy the long-
ehcri wheel  illusion in   a moment.      It   is a kind  of
awaking,  but an unpleasant  one;   we  feel that we
luwo been deceived by the apparent repose of nature;
lumcoibrwaixl we listen attentively to the least noise,
uuol,   for   the   first   tiine,   we   distrust   the   soil   on
which wo have so long confidingly wandered.    But,
when the .shocks are repeated,—when they recur fre-
quently for  several days,  then the uncertainty has
vanished,   wo take new confidence, and become as
fnrniliar with the waving earth as the steersman with
the wave-tossed ship/'    3STot long since, when Hum-
boldt was dwelling on these events of fifty years ago,
ho said that atx earthquake has' something universal,
which   one   caimot  evade;   even  the  lizards  living
quietly at the bottom, of the rivers, ran howling into
the woods, and everywhere one stands on dangerous
ground.
The inhabitants of Cuniana wer© in great terror
E 2